Wednesday, May 6, 2009


So I've always thought I was a heavy sweater. I do not glow or perspire, I sweat. Compared to some of my fellow triathletes though, I am not as sweaty as I think I am. At work, I get uncomfortable with the temperature, between the cap, mask, surgery lights, heating pads, and gloves. And then add in the nervousness when something doesn't go quite right. I can sweat up a storm!

But while exercising, I don't seem to sweat as much as the next person. I went to AM spin this past Tuesday morning, and it was probably 80 degrees and 80% humidity, which was pretty uncomfortable, though the big ass fan does help. I sweat primarily from my head, and mostly it seems from my forehead, so the sweat drips down into the eyes all the time. Next is probably my neck, them forearms and then upper arms. It's funny, but I really don't sweat from my armpits much at all- maybe the antipersperant does work. So when I am working hard, it drips from my head and elbows and you can see the drops on the floor. I usually have a ring of sweat around the collar of my tank top, but the rest of the shirt is not wet, but maybe a little damp, same for the shorts.

Now compare that with one of my coaches who will remain nameless for his protection. After the five minute warmup, he has soaked his tech T shirt. He doesn't just drip, it pours off of his head, arms, and legs like a faucet. There is a lake of liquid underneath his bike. After the most recent workout, he got off the bike and was walking around, leaving puddles where it dripped off, ran down his legs, and out of his shoes. It looks like he just got out of the pool. How is that possible?

And I do see some people that are not really sweating during the workouts. Maybe just the drops above the upper lip type of sweating. I know that how hard you are exercising doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how much you sweat. A lot of it is individual, your personal sweat rate. But at the same time, I feel like I've accomplished something if I get a good sweat on.

I have done a little research on sweating, and found that you can measure your personal sweat rate. Weigh yourself naked before exercise, then go out for an hour (or 10 or 30 minutes or whatever). Then weigh yourself afterwards. Add in any water you drank or subtract if you had to pee. That is your personal sweat rate per hour. It ranges from 0.6-1.4 L for average people, to a the record of 5 L per hour for someone sitting still in a hot room. For perspective, a small bike bottle is 0.6 L and there are 2.2 L per gallon. The sweat rate will increase with exertion, temperature, and humidity. I've also heard that the more in shape you are, the more efficient your sweating is, which means you sweat more to cool off your muscles earlier in the workout and produce more sweat. I haven't seen any research to back that up though, though by the sweat rate of my coach, maybe it is true.

So I like to sweat when I'm exercising. But I hate to sweat when I'm in real clothes. If I'm hot enough to start sweating, I get irritated. In Texas it is hot from March to October, so that is a long time that I am irritated. And I think it ties back into the old pattern and the negative thoughts come in. "If you weren't so fat, you wouldn't sweat so much." And I do think that there is truth to that. I am wearing an insulated coat- of course I'm hot. But really, when it's 100 degrees outside, just about everyone is sweating, regardless of how much they weigh. I also think thin people wear fewer and lighter clothes- tank tops, shorts, skirts, etc. And the more skin is exposed, the more sweat can evaporate and cool you down. So why don't I wear things like that more often? Because I think I need to cover up more skin to hide my fat.

Well, forget that. I've started wearing capri pants to work- mainly because I brought a little fan and it cools my legs off. I wear thin wicking socks and crocs with the holes in them. I also use an ice back on my lower back- sometimes my back is sore, but mainly to lower my core temperature. I am also trying to swim in the mornings before work at Barton Springs because that water totally lowers my core temperature! I am occasionally wearing tank tops too, and not just when I'm working out. But that does make me feel a little exposed, and that will take some getting used to.

And then on the mental side, every time I notice I'm hot or sweating, I am going to say "yay, I'm am using up energy to produce this sweat, and I am sweating out the fat." Hopefully that will help me keep a positive perspective. And then I will go jump in Barton Springs to cool off.

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